Weasels, liars and tweeting regrets


Noah Silverman at the Republican Jewish Coalition grudgingly regrets calling me and Jim Besser "weasels" for our critiques of the campaign (launched by the RJC) against the Gaza 54, the Democrats in Congress who want President Obama to press Israel to lift its closure of Gaza.

He says he was driven into an intemperate tweet (Lord, "intemperate tweet" — I’m conversing in terms that would have absolutely no meaning to my younger self) by my calling him a "liar." Maybe that too was intemperate, because I’d already said his RJC action alert contained an "untruth." [UPDATE: Upon reflection, it was indeed intemperate. Silverman clearly has his own take on why the RJC press release was accurate; and even if one finds his explanation unconvincing, that doesn’t make him a liar.]

That said, it was still an untruth, and if he wants to say I’m still a weasel, that’s fine, I’ve been called worse. (I’m not speaking for Jim, of course, and others think the RJC went off the rails with the tweet. "Off the rails with the tweet." Heavens.)

Here’s the gist of it: Noah’s action alert said the Gaza 54 "expressed no concern whatsoever" about the consequences of their ideas. But they did, in this passage:

Easing the blockade on Gaza will not only improve the conditions on the ground for Gaza’s civilian population, but will also undermine the tunnel economy which has strengthened Hamas. Under current conditions, our aid remains little more than an unrealized pledge. Most importantly, lifting these restrictions will give civilians in Gaza a tangible sense that diplomacy can be an effective tool for bettering their conditions. Your Administration’s overarching Middle East peace efforts will benefit Israel, the Palestinians, and the entire region.

According to the "Gaza 54," lifting restrictions will undermine Hamas’ control and lead civilians to favor diplomacy (over rockets.) These are "specifics," although Noah won’t admit it:

When Israel specifically cites the imperative of impeding terrorism from Gaza as a rationale for restrictions, the failure by members of Congress to address the issue specifically in a major public statement is telling and damning.

Here’s the thing: I don’t agree with the 54. Hamas is a fascist movement; it will not relinquish control easily, and will seize the reins of a border crossing economy once the tunnel economy is diminished. And as much as Gaza civilians have wanted peace in the past, according to opinion polls, Hamas has demonstrated a persuasive capacity for not giving a damn, even to its own detriment. I’ve written before that, even with Israeli restrictions imposed after its rise to power in March 2006 and its assumption of absolute power in July 2007, Hamas was able to smuggle in weapons. Had it instead smuggled in the means of creating infrastructure, it would have become a formidable first: A functioning Islamist democracy. Coupled with a dialback of its militancy, this would have cornered the Olmert government into making adeal, it would have politically eclipsed Fatah — and it would have bolstered its Muslim Brotherhood allies in Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere. Instead, Hamas’ bigger priority was killing Israeli civilians.

There: I made the argument against the letter without impugning the Democrats’ concerns about Israel, and without an "untruth" to boot that these concerns go unexpressed. I can’t be certain about the consequences of what the 54 recommend any more than they can; the point is, both views are in the mix, and neither side has been smeared or obscured.

Weasels are industrious, determined little critters. Graceful, even. Noah could do worse than pick up a thing or two from them.

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